Paul Afonso is a nationally recognized regulatory and energy lawyer with 30 years of experience serving as a trusted advisor and counselor to boards of directors, C-Suite, and management teams across several regulated industries, managing the complex intersection of regulatory, legislative, and political issues.   

Over his career, he has led several talented legal teams in government, the private sector, and as in-house counsel serving as chief legal and compliance officer. He has obtained effective results for his clients while working with governmental entities and various stakeholders at all levels to help create effective laws, regulations, and standards with integrity and creativity while attaining measurable business and revenue metrics. His career has spanned the full arc of the ongoing energy transition – from traditional utility regulation to renewable and innovative energy technologies to the large oil and gas sectors. 

Paul served as senior vice president, chief legal officer, and corporate secretary at the American Petroleum Institute (API). He was an advisor to the board of directors, CEO, and senior management team, responsible for the overall legal and compliance functions of the organization. Paul also led API’s Law Committee, composed of 20 general counsels representing the world’s largest oil and gas companies. Prior to this role, Paul was a partner at Brown Rudnick, where he served as co-leader of the firm’s Energy and Government Law & Strategies groups. In those positions, he led a successful integrated practice, which included the representation of major energy, renewable, and technology entities as well as infrastructure and private equity funds.   

Before entering private practice, Paul served as both a state and municipal regulator. He was Chairman (2003-2006) and General Counsel (1999-2003) of the Massachusetts Public Utilities Commission (formerly the Department of Telecommunications and Energy) with oversight of the electric, gas, water, and telecommunications industries. In these roles, Paul oversaw the legal, regulatory, and policy development with competitive electricity markets, renewable energy and technologies (wind, solar, and storage), and energy infrastructure development. He also served as Chairman of the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board and the Boston Water and Sewer Commission.

Representative Experience

Any result the lawyer or law firm may have achieved on behalf of clients in other matters does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.

  • Led API Law Committee with member general counsels, including ExxonMobil, Chevron, Hess, Marathon Petroleum, Devon Energy, ConocoPhillips, Phillips 66, Shell, BP, Equinor, Repsol, Williams, Enbridge, and Halliburton, among others.
  • Represented several energy and renewable energy clients before state regulatory agencies with ratemaking, service quality standards, long-range planning and procurement processes, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate financing. 
  • Led regulatory and legislative strategy for the development of 650 MW gas-fired generating plant in Massachusetts; representation before state and federal agencies regarding financing and permitting of a major infrastructure development.
  • Served as outside regulatory counsel for a leading electric vehicle charging company (a Braemar Energy Ventures portfolio company) with regulatory and policy issues before several state public utility commissions and state legislatures.
  • Represented large European energy company before various state agencies in connection with the merger and acquisition of U.S. energy assets.
  • Represented a large wind developer with regulatory and contractual matters.
  • Served as expert witness regarding regulatory issues in connection with franchise cable filing before state regulatory commission.
  • Represented various energy technologies with utility engagement and state and federal regulatory approvals; technologies include leading software companies with comprehensive grid-edge optimization to enable a clean and modern grid.
  • Represented transmission companies with strategic and regulatory counsel regarding the northeast market and overall business strategy.
  • Represented a large renewable and solar developer with federal issues at the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding tariff applications.

Professional & Civic Engagement

  • Portuguese-American Leadership Council of the United States (PALCUS), Advisory Board Member, 1993-Present
  • National Hispanic Bar Association, 2019-Present 
  • Braemar Energy Ventures, Strategic Advisory Board, 2011-2019 
  • Utilidata, Inc., Board of Directors, 2010-2019
  • Boston Water and Sewer Commission, Chair, 2012-2015
  • New England Conference of Public Utility Commissioners, 2003-2006 (President, 2003-2004)
  • Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Services, Appointed by the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, 2004-2006
  • Federal-State Joint Conference on Economic Dispatch for New York/New England Region, Appointed by the Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 2004-2006
  • National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, 2003-2006
  • Rhode Island Constitutional Convention, Elected Delegate, 1985-1986

Speaking Engagements

Co-Host, Weekly Portuguese-American Public Affairs Program on WHTB 1400 AM